Tag Archives: vegetarian lunch ideas

Weekly Eating – 1/22/18

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

This weekend I was on my A-game with meal prepping.

Sunday meal prepping

Bell peppers were on sale for 0.99/each, which usually only happens in the height of summer. So naturally I planned on making a batch of stuffed peppers. I’d also been hankering for hummus, so I whipped up a half batch in the blender, and at the last minute decided “why not throw in some turmeric too?” It came out a lovely vibrant yellow! I even used real tahini rather than my usual cheap-o peanut butter.

stocked refrigerator after meal prepping

With the other half can of chickpeas I made a Greek tabbouli type salad with cucumber, tomato, couscous, and red onion. (CRAP! I should’ve added kalamata olives too… ah, next time.) Bags of pre-cut cauliflower were cheaper per pound than buying a whole head, so I roasted a bag of that and added buffalo sauce for funzies. And a big ol pan of enchiladas, mostly pork for the boy with two black bean and mushroom vegetarian ones for myself.

black bean mushroom enchilada

Blueberries were also on sale this week, so I portioned out a few small containers. Whew! Now, on to the week!

Monday:

Breakfast – a piece of fruitcake from the holiday Food Swap! I had never had fruitcake, since it has such a sterling reputation, but y’all. This lady’s recipe was amaaaaaazing! It was dense and moist cake, and was just bursting with huge chunks of mango, apricot, papaya, and whole nuts. It was seriously addictive. I’m so bummed it is a super secret family recipe, she legit won’t share it!

holiday fruitcake and tea

Lunch – Lentil & couscous stuffed pepper. This is so simple, just cook 1 cup couscous, rice, or quinoa. Mix with 1 cup cooked lentils, black beans, or pinto beans. Add 1 can diced tomatoes, and stuff into 3-4 bell peppers. Bake for 350 about 25-30 minutes until soft.

lentil and couscous stuffed bell pepper

Dinner – Stir Fry! I used some veggies from the fridge and some from the freezer, plus the tofu from the sale a few weeks ago, to whip up tonight’s batch of stir fry.

stir fry veggies in pan

Note to self: when oven-baking tofu, don’t use the pre-chunked kind! The pieces are just too small and stick to the pan something awful. It was still super tasty though.

tofu stir fry

Snack – blueberries

blueberries

Tuesday:

Breakfast – I made some oatmeal with dates, but forgot to take a photo, oops! It was tasty and warm, and very filling.

Lunch – Tabbouli. I like this type of meal because it’s totally fine at room temperature and very portable. I didn’t even need a lunch bag I just threw it in my work bag and went.

tabbouli with chickpeas, cucumber, and red onion

Snack – I had got some protein bars on super sale (like 90 cents) and tried one today. It was horrid. It was hard but chewy, and tasted like basically a caramel with protein powder. And also had chunks of raw coconut. Gag. I swallowed the one small bite and tossed the rest. I hate wasting money 🙁

Dinner – White Bean & Barley Soup – this was a crossover between my Ham & Barley Soup and my White Bean Soup. I didn’t have a lot of ham, just a tiny bag of a few frozen cubes left over from who knows when that we found in the freezer. So I figured, add a can of white beans to bulk it up, and dang, it was a great combo! This might be my new go-to.

ham, white bean, and barley soup

Wednesday:

Breakfast – loaded baked sweet potato. I zapped it in the microwave covered in a wet paper towel for 10 minutes, then piled on some black beans, salsa, purple sauerkraut & avocado. Mind blowingly good, and I nommed the whole thing!

loaded baked sweet potato

Lunch – Black bean & mushroom enchilada, buffalo cauliflower, and blueberries

black bean enchilada with buffalo cauliflower

Dinner – Black bean veggie burger with Green Goddess, sauerkaurt, freezer mac n cheese, and veggies on the side. Yes, I know I had black beans at every meal today, and yes I’m quite proud of that fact.

veggie burger with green goddess and mac n cheese

Making our way further into the freezer, I pulled out a box of Aldi black bean patties and an old pre-made mac n cheese, plus some frozen edamame and corn on the side for a colorful, healthy, and super filling dinner.

ALDI black bean veggie burgers

Snack – tea and a Stroopwafel. GUYS. Have you had a Stroopwafel?? It is as much fun to eat as it is to say! It’s a thin, crispy waffel, well, two of them, with a layer of sweet salty caramel in between. It is absolute heaven with a cup of hot green tea.

tea and stroopwafel

Thursday:

Breakfast – Homemade yogurt with blueberries and tropical granola

homemade yogurt parfait with blueberries and granola

Lunch – Stuffed Pepper & a banana

stuffed bell pepper and a banana

Dinner – The famous One-pan Buffalo Potato Bake, with previously cooked & frozen pulled pork. Have I mentioned my love of freezer meals enough yet?

buffalo pork potato bake

Snack – blueberries and a Sesame bite from Puerto Rico!

berries and sesame bite

Friday:

Breakfast – PBJ sandwich thin

peanut butter and jelly sandwich thin

Lunch – lentil & couscous stuffed pepper & blueberries

lentil and couscous stuffed pepper with blueberries

Dinner – Masoor Dal, or red lentils, over black ‘forbidden rice’

ingredients for masoor dal

I want to cook more ethnic dishes this year, so I’m easing into it with a super simple dish. Lentils are insanely good for you, and insanely cheap too. Plus all the spices in typical curry are also highly rated on the health-o-meter.

red lentils and black rice

Snack – Turmeric hummus and veggies. How could you not love the neon yellow color?!? I know I did.

bright yellow turmeric hummus

The Weekend

This is another chill weekend, as the boy is still not feeling 100%. I’m planning to head over to Spice Bazaar and pick up some more delish Indian foods and spices, and while I’m on that side of town I’ll hit the ALDI as well. We are running a little low on produce.

Food Total: $41.23
Meats $2.89 Dairy $4.40 Staples $7.49 Fruit/Veg $26.45
1lb turkey 2.89 Yogurts 11 4.4 Flatout Wraps 2 6pk 5 Bananas 12 3.07
seltzer 12 pack 2.49 Avocado 2 2.5
chopped cauliflower 4.99
bell peppers 4 3.96
1 cucumber 0.99
pint mushrooms 1.99
blueberry pints 2 3.76
Dry prunes 18oz 5.19

Eating healthfully does not have to be expensive!

I mean, look at the enchiladas. $1.99 for 10 tortillas, $1.25 for a can of sauce, $1.99 for pint of mushrooms (I used half), $0.25 for a can of black beans = $5.48 total and you can make 8 enchiladas, so 0.68 per serving! With 2 tortillas left over for a PB, banana, & honey snack or turkey pinwheels.

What about the stuffed peppers? $3.96 for 4 peppers, maybe 0.50 worth of lentils and another 0.50 of couscous (or rice), 1 can of diced tomatoes at 0.25 = $5.21 total so $1.30 per serving. And if you don’t have a big appetite one huge pepper can be 2 different meals. They also freeze pretty well for later.

Lessons Learned

Meal prepping is such a great time saver! I enjoy cooking too much to make enough for lunches and dinners, I would get bored quickly. But for lunches, it is really nice to already have meal options cooked and packed and ready to go, you just grab the container you want that day. Same thing for healthy snacks.

 

How about you guys, did you have a great week or a learning week?

Chia, Quinoa & Greens Salad

 

For an awesome, easy lunch/side dish/snack that you can take on the go or whip up without heating the kitchen on a smoldering summer day, try this salad packed with power players. This would easily be layer-able in a mason jar, to take to work or school or anywhere on the go, or throw together right out of the fridge. It also tastes good made in advance if you use hardy greens that are amenable to some marinating.

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The base of any good green salad is of course the greens. Leafy greens are the super-veggies of the plant kingdom, and it is REALLY tough to have too much. There are plenty of species whose only food is leafy greens. We should try to emulate that as much as possible.

According to author, dietitian, and nutritional educator Jill Nussinow MS, RD, “Greens are the number 1 food you can eat regularly to help increase your health” (WebMD). Leafy greens are packed with vitamins & minerals, as well as heart- and gut-healthy fiber and plant-based chemicals, many of which we haven’t even discovered yet.

Leafy greens include kale, collards, mustard greens, beet greens, romaine, spinach, arugula or rocket, swiss chard, broccoli,  cabbage, and even iceberg. Start with a big heaping handful, at least 1-2 cups.

Next up is the buzz-worthy quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). Quinoa was domesticated 3,000-4,000 years ago in South America. It is a psuedocereal with edible  seeds, closely related to amaranth and buckwheat.  Quinoa contains essential amino acids (which our body cannot make on its own) like lysine, as well as an exceptionally high protein content, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and iron. It is also gluten-free, making it a great “grain-like” choice for those with Celiac’s disease or a gluten intolerance.

The raw seeds have a soapy coating (called saponins) that make them unpalatable to birds. This is handy because the crops need less protection. However, that means most quinoa crops must be processed before sale for humans, so that we are able to eat it without feeling like we just licked a Dawn dish soap dispenser.

And our final power player here is the chia seeds. Chia seeds are a massive nutrition powerhouse, with just one ounce (2 tablespoons) containing 11 g of fiber, 4 g of protein, and about 100 calories while also providing about 1/3 your recommended manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. There are claims that some ancient cultures would survive solely on chia seeds in times of duress.

Chia is easy to incorporate into baking, simply sprinkle a tbsp or two into any batter, from pancakes to muffins to oatmeal. You could also try a refreshing Chia Fresca as a beverage to get some chia in your life. While a little weird at first, it is a great habit to start to get enough water every day.

And finally, we top it off with whatever fresh veggies you are partial to. Just make sure to incorporate a variety, and at least 1/2-1 cup total. A tbsp of other nuts or seeds is also a great addition. Steer clear of too-high-fat toppings like cheese, meats, or even eggs. Add spices to taste.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup julienned carrot & cucumber
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • Handful grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp vinaigrette

IMG_9377

Step 1: Lay down your greens. Mix in your quinoa. (To cook: mix 1 cup with 2 cups water, bring to a boil. Cover, turn off heat. Let stand 10 minutes, fluff with a fork.)

IMG_9378

Step 2: Add in your vegetables, sprinkle chia on top.

Step 3: Whip up a fresh, super-simple vinaigrette by mixing 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp olive oil, and 1 tbsp vinegar in a bottle, then shaking. Or drizzle on 1-2 tbsp of bottled dressing.

IMG_9380

If you want to make a portable layered salad, add ingredients in the exact opposite order: dressing on the bottom, then hard veggies, soft veggies, quinoa & greens.

Chili & Greens Smothered Potato

 

Whether for a quick snack or a hearty, filling meal, smothered potatoes are a go-to for me. A plain potato has 150-200 calories, along with magnesium, B vitamins, and a surprisingly high amount of vitamin C. Potatoes get a bad rep mostly because they are usually served or cooked with other things that are far less healthy for you, like butter, margarine, sour cream, and cheese.

The better options for topping your tater include: greens, fresh veggies like broccoli, onion, peppers, avocado chunks, beans, salsa, corn, and of course, chili! I used my delicious vegan three-bean chili. You IMG_7594will use leftover chili, or store-bought, whatever kind you like. If you don’t have chili, looking up this recipe is silly isn’t it?

This baked potato takes mere minutes to put together, and is perfect for a portable lunch. You will need a heavy plate and utensils though, no eating while literally on the run here. It is packed with vitamins and nutrients, filling fiber, healthy fats, and staying power from protein. And it’s totally vegan! But you won’t even know the meat is missing, it’s that good.

I used homemade sauerkraut on mine, because I totally love this tangy, salty stuff. If you hate it, don’t worry about it. Not required for the experience. Sauerkraut is ridiculously easy to make, by the way, and crazy good for your digestive health. I’ll have to post on that soon…

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium baking potato
  • 2/3 cups vegan 3-bean chili
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1/3 cup broccoli florets
  • 2-3 large kale leaves or 1/3 c spinach
  • 2-3 tbsp sauerkraut

IMG_7593

Step 1: Rinse well, and poke holes in the potato. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, turn it, and microwave another 4 minutes.

IMG_7595

Step 2: Cut the hot potato in half, and place on a large plate. Top with the greens, broccoli, and chili, and microwave another 1-2 minutes. Add the sauerkraut and avocado, season if needed and enjoy!

 

Chili & Greens Smothered Potato

Ingredients

  • 1 medium baking potato
  • 2/3 cups vegan 3-bean chili
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1/3 cup broccoli florets
  • 2-3 large kale leaves or 1/3 c spinach
  • 2-3 tbsp sauerkraut

Instructions

  1. Rinse the potato well, and poke holes all around it. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, turn it, and microwave another 4 minutes.
  2. Cut the hot potato in half, and place on a large plate. Top with the greens, broccoli, and chili, and microwave another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the sauerkraut and avocado, season if needed and enjoy!
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Avocado Beet Wrap

 

As spring kicks into gear and temperatures climb, we start looking for lighter, cooling dishes. It’s tough to enjoy a beef stew or thick chili when it’s 95 and humid. Luckily spring and summer bring a rotating buffet of delicious seasonal vegetables and fruits.

One of my favorite ways to use fresh produce is in a wrap. You can only have a bowl of salad so many times before it gets old. This way you can still have all the greens and good toppings but in a portable, desk-friendly format. Wraps are easily adaptable to just about any veggie or dip (such as hummus, guacamole, or sriracha ranch).

This wrap packs the healthy fats of avocado, the anti-cancer and inflammation-fighting power of beets, the hydration of cucumber and greens in one fabulous lunch. But feel free to sub in another type of green (spinach, kale, beet greens) or other veggies you have on hand. On average, you should eat about 2 1/2 cups of veggies per day, and a wrap should contain approximately 1 cup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tortilla
  • 1 whole roasted beet (4-5 slices)
  • 1/2 cucumber, skin on if organic
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/4 head of romaine (or 1/2 c greens)

IMG_8979

Step 1: Cut up your avocado, cucumber, & beets. Spread the greens on the tortilla, top with veggies. Roll up and enjoy!

 

*Some time saver tips:

  • Use canned beets for the slices
  • Pick up pre-cut cucumber from a salad bar
  • Use packaged guac instead of an avocado